Journalists at Rupert Murdoch’s now-shuttered News of the World paper tried to access the mobile phones of 9/11 victims, a former New York City police officer claimed on Monday.
The former officer said he had been approached to get phone numbers for several people killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks. But the unidentified officer, now a private detective, said he turned the paper down.
“He knew how insensitive such research would be, and how bad it would look,” the Mirror quotes a source close to the man as saying.
“This investigator is used by a lot of journalists, in America and he recently told me that he was asked to hack into the 9/11 victims’ private phone data. He said that the journalists asked him to access records showing the calls that had been made to and from the mobile phones belonging to the victims and their ¬relatives.
“His presumption was that they wanted the information so they could hack into the ¬relevant voice mails, just like it has been shown they have done in the UK,” the source told the Mirror.
“The investigator said the ¬journalists seemed particularly interested in getting the phone records belonging to the British victims of the attacks.”
Investigations in Britain have shown that hacking into phone accounts was routine at the News of the World, part of Murdoch’s worldwide News Corp. empire, which in the United States includes Dow Jones, as well as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post newspapers, Fox TV stations, the 20th Century Fox movie studios, and Harper Collins books.
It has been known for years that the paper hacked the phones of celebrities, sports stars, royalty, and politicians. The paper’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, and private detective Glenn Mulcaire were jailed in 2007.
But new revelations in recent weeks show that News Corp. did not hand over all the details of its internal investigations into the scandal to police.
The tide of public opinion turned sharply against the paper last week after it was revealed that Mulcaire tapped into the phone of 13-year-old Milly Dowler, after she went missing in 2002, and deleted some messages. Dowler was murdered and her body was found six months after she disappeared.
It also was revealed that families of victims of the London bombings of 2005 were hacked, and the new revelations about 9/11 victims seem to mirror that action.
On Monday, British papers reported that police officers protecting Queen Elizabeth had sold the paper details of movements of members of the Royal Family. It also was revealed that former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown claimed that News Corp. papers broke into both his phone and his bank account.
Murdoch closed down the hugely popular paper last week as the fallout from the hacking scandal threatened his $19 billion plan to take over a cable TV network in Britain.
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